Faith is a curious truth; we live an aimless and meaningless life without it. Life without faith is akin to drinking ultrapure water which is devoid of the necessary minerals and trace elements critical for biological growth and development. Over time, our body weakens, succumbs to diseases and dies. In a similar fashion, our Spirit becomes despondent without faith and the slightest problem we encounter will overwhelm us. On the other hand, you can never become intoxicated with too much faith - and unlike medications, you will never suffer an overdose. But for faith to work, we need to think binary. It is either one or zero; all faith or none at all. Faith does not work in decimals or percentages - 99.9% is just not enough. To exercise faith, we cannot tell ourselves that we believe 90% of the time but choose to believe otherwise on the remaining 10%. This is dangerous, and foolish, because out of the 10 circumstances that you may experience in this life, the one that you chose to ignore could be the most important lesson that the Divine wants you to learn and practise. It is for this reason that we must understand that the practice of spiritual faith is all or none.
Consistent with our understanding of faith is our concept of Divine blessings. We often view blessings as getting what we wished or desired for. This is a wrong and misguided view. The Divine bestows blessings only when we are on the right path or when we are deserving of their blessings. The latter being closely associated with our Karma and alignment with our spiritual mission. Unfortunately, many of us practise transactional faith where we go to church or temple to demonstrate our devotions to the Divine. There are also many who offer prayers in the comforts of their homes on a daily basis. There is nothing wrong with these practices, except that if we are doing so expecting reciprocal divine attention on us, then we may be in for a rude shock in times of hardships or misfortunes, or when we needed our wishes or desires to be answered. A transactional relationship will never last because it is similar to a relationship between a seller and buyer. Once the desire or need of the buyer is fulfilled, the seller waits patiently for the next transaction. But the Divine is not a seller; HE has nothing to sell you. The Divine is baffled each time you go to HIM asking for your wishes to be answered because HE is not offering any merchandises. Sooner or later, you will learn the cold hard truth of practising faith in the way that it should have been practised. That is, spiritual faith must be transformational!
A transformational relationship lasts a lifetime or more. It is the foundation of unconditional love because it propels a relationship to a higher platform. A transformational relationship entails personal reflections on our characters and behaviours. We constantly work towards the betterment of ourselves in our interactions with others and the Divine. In a transformational relationship, we often assess our desires and motivations in relation to others, and we strive towards helping others instead of ourselves.
Transformational faith is the pillar of our connection to the Divine. Through it, we are inspired to progress on our spiritual path; we are empowered to make the right decisions; and we are encouraged to delay instant gratifications that have become synonymous with modern living. In transformational faith, we live a guided life and we become one with the Divine. The practice of spiritual faith should be applied consistently throughout our life and not only in times of need or when we need to fulfill our desires. Our relationship with the Divine must not be based on transactions. It must be built upon a foundation of transformation and an internal drive or motivation to change ourselves. A “transactional” mindset will only hamper our relationship with the Divine and as a result, there will be many missed opportunities to transform our lives for the better. Our future can only be different because our mindsets have changed and we are humbled by the teachings and guidance of the Divine. This cannot be achieved if the relationship is purely transactional.
There are many similarities between a relationship with the Divine and that between husband and wife. If a relationship between spouses is purely transactional, then it is unlikely for the couple to develop a deep, trusting relationship. Every interaction between them will be highly superficial. If either Party places a condition on love, then the relationship is unlikely to be transformational. This is why love must be unconditional in any relationship. Conditional love places undue pressures on both Parties and creates tensions in the relationship. When either Party expects reciprocal emotions or behaviours in return for the affection, it places unnecessary strain on the relationship. We love because we want to, not because we must. If love is a must, then it is given under coercion and will likely contain pretense and lies. This type of relationship is likely to be superfluous and highly detrimental to the spiritual development of the Parties.
The concept of “feeling blessed, living well” is not an ideal. It is not out of reach. We do not need to feel blessed so as to live well; neither do we need to live well to feel blessed. And living well does not necessarily mean living a life of luxury or material comforts. It may simply mean that you have learnt to be grounded, thankful and humble; and that you can look after your health and spiritual well being without becoming a burden to your loved ones or to society at large.
Who knows? Without you even realising it, you may wake up one morning knowing that you are feeling blessed and living well.